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Melissa Harris- Perry

News/Business. Melissa Harris-Perry. Analysis and discussion surrounding political, cultural and community issues. New.

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America 14, Charlotte 10, Obama 9, Florida 8, Us 8, New York 7, Bill Clinton 6, John Edwards 6, George W. Bush 6, California 6, Clinton 6, San Antonio 6, Lola 5, Joe Biden 5, Michelle Obama 5, Kevin 5, Julian Castro 5, Leslie 5, Raymond James 4, Louisiana 4,
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  MSNBC    Melissa Harris- Perry    News/Business. Melissa Harris-Perry. Analysis and  
   discussion surrounding political, cultural and community issues. New.  

    September 8, 2012
    7:00 - 9:00am PDT  

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this morning my question, how did we become an incarceration nation? plus, texas could be a swing state sooner than you think. and unconventional thinking. all the things that weren't said in tampa or charlotte. but first, the donkey stampede and what it means to have home court advantage. good morning, i'm malice hah harris-perry. the start of this week thought the donkey democrats would try out for their party's democratic national convention would be a
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lot like winnie the pooh's friend eeyore always conceding that things aren't great and that they could always be worse. focusing on the problems to be overcome of a gloomy fellow, but instead the democratic donkey who actually showed up was a lot more like shrek's singing sidekick looking to kick over obstacles in his way. the disheartened and divided party struggling to ridge an enthusiasm gap was nowhere to be found in charlotte's time warner cable arena, but the democrats did display one trait that both eeyore and donkey share. unflun itching loyalty to their guy. what we also saw was the tactical advantage of going second. you get to see how your opponent is going to play his hand and adjust accordingly. and when it was their turn, the democrats matched the republicans play-for-play. the republicans had their queen of hearts and the democrats had one, too. they saw the gop candidates
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compelling wife with the moving personal narrative and raised them a candidate's wife who took a personal story and punched it up by making it political. >> i have seen firsthand that being president doesn't change who you are. no, it reveals who you are. so in the end for barack these issues aren't political, they are personal. barack knows the american dream because he's lived it. and he wants everyone in this country, everyone to have the same opportunity no matter who we are or where we are from or what we look like or who we love. >> last week a republican governor slammed the convention with a club, which he used to bash the opposition and bait the bails. this week a democratic governor hit back with a club of his own and he made it clear the democrats didn't just come to win, they came to fight.
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>> mitt romney talks a lot about all the things he's fixed. i can tell you, massachusetts was not one of them. he's a fine fellow and a great salesman. but as governor he was a lot more interested in having the job than doing the job. it's time for democrats to grow a backbone and stand up for what we believe! >> now, the wild card that threw the republicans off message was missing from this week's convention, but former ohio governor ted strickland played the joker with a series of stinging one-liner attacks against mitt romney. >> if mitt was santa claus, he would fire the reindeer and outsource the elves. barack obama is betting on the
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american worker. mitt romney is betting on a bermuda shell corporation. barack obama saved the american auto industry. mitt romney saved on his taxes. >> both conventions made their appeal to latino voters with a constellation of rising stars. of course, the democrats upped the ante by featuring a pair, joaquin castro and his twin brother and keynote speaker san antonio mayor, julian castro. >> we suffer the threats that connect us, and the only people that will go far are those already ahead. we all understand that freedom isn't free. what romney and ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. we have to invest in it. >> now those aren't the only benefits to playing your position later in the game.
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the democrats also had a few cards that were missing from the republican party's deck. marriage equality and reproductive rights moved from their place many the shadows last week into the spotlight at the democratic national convention. sandra fluke made the argument for the romney administers as not just a war on women but a scorched earth assault against them. >> an america in which states uo endure invasive aultrasounds tht we don't want. and birth control is controlled by people who will never use it! an america in which politicians redefine rape and victims are victimized all over again. in which someone decides which
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domestic violence victims deserves access to services and which don't. >> and there's this, mitt romney's speech last week made no mention of military service members or the war the united states is still fighting in afghanistan. it's a point that tammy duckworth, a war-wounded veteran and illinois candidate for the house of representatives did not miss. >> when it comes to our men and women in harm's way, we have a clear choice on november 6th. last week mitt romney had a chance to show his support for the brave men and women he is seeking to command, but he chose to criticize president obama instead of even uttering the word afghanistan. >> and then there was one card the republicans kept so close to the vest that we never saw or heard any mention of it. it was as if their last two-term president never existed. maybe george w. bush was the
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invisible guy in the chair, but there was no missing the democrats last two-term president on wednesday night. if there was any card bill clinton was holding, it had to be a spade because he dug right into the accomplishments of the obama administration with a 49-minute workhorse, or donkey, of a speech. in fact, the new york giants could have taken some notes on defense from president clinton on wednesday night because he knocked down point-for-point every criticism leveled against president obama by the republicans last week. >> let's take a look at what's actually happened so far. now there were two other attacks on the president in tampa that i think deserve an answer. here's what happened. now, folks, this is serious, because it gets worse. and you won't will laughing when i finish telling you this. let's look at the other big charge the republicans made. it's a real doozy. >> by thursday the democrats had
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almost finished playing your hand because who needs a jack when you have ajo. the person who most embodied the democratic national convention's spirit of standing by their man. >> you know, barack and i, we have been through a lot together in these four years, and we learned about one another, a lot about one another. and one of the things i learned about barack is the enormity of his heart. and i think he learned about me the depth of my loyalty to him. >> and, of course, the final card in the democratic deck, their ace, barack obama. sounding lightning the seasoned president he is today rather than the candidate he was when he spoke at the convention four years ago. for reminding us that when the candidate in 2008 said, yes, we can, that the most important of those three words was the one in the middle. >> the election four years ago
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wasn't about me. it was about you. my fellow citizens, you were the change. you're the reason there's a little girl with a heart disorder in phoenix who will get the surgery she needs because an insurance company can't limit her coverage. you did that. you're the reason a young man in colorado who never thought he would be able to afford his dream of earning a medical degree is about to get that chance. you made that possible. you did that! you did that! >> then came the morning after and the reminder of what we still haven't been able to do move the jobless rate significantly beyond disappointing numbers like 8.1%. but with less than 60 days until the election, 8.1 may be much less poshtd than 52. 52% is the current president's approval rating according to gal lock up, the highest since may of 2011. in politics we call that a
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bounce. joining me today is joy reed, ari melber for "the nation," lola adeshoya, writer and commentator, and leslie sanchez of "you've come a long way maybe." i just got back from charlotte sleep-deprived, but here we are. you guys were both in charlotte, what's the major take-away point from that whole story i just retold? >> well, i love that retelling it. it's true, it was a tale of two conventions, both of which were about barack obama. that was so stunning. the difference between the two is that you had this hugely sort of negative message about obama, which was the takeaway from tampa because the convention wasn't about mitt romney, he was an afterthought. it was obama is the bad guy, get him out of there. then you have the charlotte convention which was, we love this guy, this is our guy. and really a focused tight message of people who really liked the president, love the
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president but then when he came on he redirected it back to the supporters saying, i need you to be invested in this. this was your election in 2008. be invested. you know what? it wasn't just because they heard mary j.blige, the audience was invested in what he was doing. >> real love. >> i'm sorry i stepped on that line, that was good. that felt like the important turn, that in that speech we had seen a lot of the policy conversations, all of that, but it really was the president turning around and saying, yes, we can, was always about we. and it fell like such an important sort of turn in thinking about what counts as sort of a success, right, success is us moving forward. >> right. it is us doing it and this convention is about us coming together comparing notes, talking about what we have done, where we are going and getting out to vote. you saw both michelle obama and the former president bill clinton speak very directly, we forget, this is about getting people out there, the yard signs don't vote, people vote. people vote with or without
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i.d.s depending on the state they are in. there's a lot of issues raised in conjunction with that, but it was a contrast to tampa which felt at times more like a conference or board presentation. there was a lot of clear sort of detail about why they don't like president obama but there wasn't necessarily as much a call to arms of saying, mitt romney is your man. on joy's point when they totaled up the number of words used, the word obama was used more than romney at both conventions. that's not necessarily bad for the republicans because they have to both convince the country to fire one guy and hire another. >> right. if you don't vote for president obama, the only alternative is, of course, governor romney. leslie, let me ask you this, one could say i disagree with the party, i don't like what was said, i think -- but the convention itself was a good convention, right? in terms of doing what it needed to do? >> gather a bunch of delegates excited to vote for obama? if you mean that, yes, it did
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accomplish that. >> and it gave him a five-point bounce. >> that's expected. historically at the convention, that's what you get. the home court advantage is traditionally about a five-point bounce. you want to see that. you remember sarah palin and mccain, it is funny we lead with her, coming out of 2008. it was this big bounce that you didn't think you would see an end to until you saw the collapse of lehman, until you saw the financial crisis. the republicans never recovered. it was good for the purposes of energizing the base but this is a referendum on obama regardless of what party you were in. >> i want to play with that idea for a bit was a we saw not only the bounce but also there seems to be an impact in sort of voter choice, which we didn't see coming out of tampa. if we look at the gallup pole and the reuters numbers coming out on friday, we see this position where, in fact, part of what's happened here is 48% to 45% in terms of not just likability or job approval by actually likelihood of voting.
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and i hear you, i've gotten in trouble before for saying, had the election of 2008 been held in october instead of november, it is possible that the mccain/palin ticket could have won because they did collapse afterward, but these numbers, when you have an incumbent now leading, i have to say that looks much more formidable to me. >> definitely. the republican convention, if you are an undecided voter, if you're not a hard core republican, there was no space for you. it was very much speaking to these are our people, these are our base and it's an exclusive group. and this convention, the democratic national convention was speaking to a wide range of issues and people. if you are undecided, you're more likely to get something out of that. >> when we come back, we'll talk about so much more. i know, we can just go and go, but up next i want to talk about one person, in particular, because we all want to be michelle obama when we grow up. we'll talk more about that when we come back. [ woman ] ring. ring. progresso.
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the most intimate portraits we have heard about president obama this week came from two people, one is his partner in life and the other is his partner in politics. michelle obama head her case for president obama telling her story about the good man. >> that's the man i see in the quiet moments late at night hunched over his desk pouring over the letters people have sent him. i hear the determination in his voice as he tells me, you won't believe what these folks are going through, michelle. it's not right. we've got to keep working to fix this. we've got so much more to do. >> and never once missed words,
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vice president joe biden skipped the introductions and tells us literally why the good man makes a president. >> he always asked in every one of the critical meetings the same fundamental question, how is this going to affect the average american? how is this going to affect people's lives? that's what's inside this man. that's what makes him tick. that's who he is. >> still at the table, joy, ari, lola and leslie. it feels to me like the surrogate piece was an awfully important part of what happened this week and that the first lady and the vice president were perhaps the most effective surrogates the president had. >> definitely. the thing is that particularly with joe biden, first of all, michelle obama is gorgeous, she's fabulous. >> and compelling in a way -- she's always been a compelling
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individual, but we have seen her grow up as a political figure in her own right. >> she went above politics and above the political discourse to talk about the human being and you sort of contrast that with the way ann romney did it, the obamas just tell the story, it could be you and me or anybody and how they came up together without a silver spoon. she was important in that sense in the a-political sense, but joe biden as much as the right downs him, joe biden is probably the most underrated guy in politics because he is so relatable that everybody has someone in their family like joe. he's your uncle joe. >> crazy uncle joe. >> crazy uncle joe. >> he's relatable. speak on the catholics, older voters, working class voters, there's nobody better. >> it does feel to me like joe biden did two really important things. one he gave us the backstage pass to the presidency. this is what i see when this guy is acting as president. the other was i really did love his car thing, i don't know, i'm
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slightly obsessed with the transformers and keep finding reasons to have transformers on the show. so i have this feeling like when he was talking about my daddy was a car guy and that's totally different than when mitt romney's daddy was a car guy. i can just see him beating down the republicans in some important way. is that right? is biden an effective counter over and against the romney narrative of like the american automobile industry, for example? >> biden is the gift that keeps on giving. you just really to put him next to a live mike and you never know what you're going to get. he's very candid and truthful and he has a lot of good mount ease, but the truth about this administration is that he does speak truth to many of the realities of the labor movement, of immigration reform, all those things we have kind of seen, the aftermath of that. i think in that sense what is important about what the role he did and michelle obama and ann romney is they humanized the candidate.
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in many cases, people are not really tuning in. the independent voters she's talking about, until right now. governor romney it is, who is he and what kind of person is he? marco rubio is one who really defined what governor romney was about, the spouses do it in a very special way but also the other surrogates lay out that full narrative. >> there's a funny thing that happens at the convention where is the earlier you go in the day before all the tv coverage, there's a lot of talk about where the party is and that's true in both parties. as you get to primetime, the ideology fades and you get into attitude. and those two speeches, those two validators say barack obama is real, he cares a great deal about you, that's his attitude. by contrast mitt romney is a phony, he's not authentic and we don't know who he is thinking about, you, your bank account or his taxes. that was a strong contrast
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republicans have to deal with. they have a different view about the contrasts but that jumped out to me, the idea that michelle said the core of her speech was this is a revealing process. you're under the light, you're under the pressure and you have a president who has done a lot of things unpopular, including the signature issue of health care and has not backed down. in contrast to mitt romney who i think mitt romney did the right thing on health care. universal health care at a state level is a great thing, but as soon as it became difficult hes to tossed it out the window. >> there was one more highly talked about surrogate. that guy with a 69% approval rating who thinks that president obama should be re-elected. how do you counter that? that's next. alright, you ready kevin? and... flip! whoa! did you get that? yep, look at this.
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are we where we want to be today? no. is the president satisfied? of course not. but are we better off than we were when he took office? listen to this. listen to this. everybody's forgotten -- everybody's forgotten when president barack obama took office the economy was in freefall, it had just shrunk 9% of gdp. we were losing 750,000 jobs a month. are we doing better than that today? the answer is yes. >> that was former president bill clinton who made the clear-cut case for the re-election of president obama on wednesday night, but the case for clinton himself is a bit more complicated. democrats hoping to ride the wave of clinton's '90s nostalgia leave themselves vulnerable to
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the point that the era was not so golden to everyone, but with a 69% approval rating clinton leaves them with no choice of attack and to declare their love with the rest of america. mitt romney's campaign quickly fell in love with president obama's speech saying, quote, president clinton drew a stark contra contrast between himself and president obama tonight. bill clinton worked with republica republicans balancing the. back to my panel, lola, i want to bring in your conversation on this here because it feels surprising that the republicans line of attack is you're no bill clinton. really? >> because they don't have another other line of attack. it's always been an anti-obama attack. anything they can draw to
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solidify that they will, and this is the next one. now they're going to attack the clinton/obama comparison. >> one of the things i noted in the clinton speech was it felt a little bit like an ezra clein blog, i expected him to whip out the powerpoint. it was incredibly compelling because it was bill clinton, but was it just a fact check. he wrote a piece about the importance of fact checking. was this a fact check on the republicans? >> i think it was. the piece i wrote for pbs was how the fact check has gone so viral and reporters are using this as a public backchannel to figure out claims. we are seeing a model of basically truth leading rather than balance. balance is what you say global warming is happening but someone else says it's not, figure it out. whereas truth is the new york times former op-ed or public
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editor they call it, basically they are fact checkers. maybe you should vigilant for truth. >> truth over truthiness. >> truth over truthiness and his time in the moment. he has to decide what's happening out there before he decides what to write in his speech. his view is not that they need to humanize the candidate, his view is they have a really good argument that is getting petty-fogged by all these false claims and confusing ads and what happened on welfare and what happened on the economy. so i thought it was striking, i would argue this was the most detail-laden primetime convention speech in the last 20 years. >> it was kind of shocking that he could talk for 45 minutes and have people -- really only bill clinton could do it. you do a good bill clinton impression, but was there a lot of truth in it? and there was some revision of his own background. what i wanted him to say, the one line i really wanted was,
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this president got health care reform passed and i didn't. but you still felt a lot of sort of clinton protectionism of his own memory of working together with republicans. >> i was amazed, melissa, that bill clinton, only bill clinton could have gotten a room of activists, most of whom are to the left of center to cheer for these positions. this was a dlc president who was to the right in a lot of ways of barack obama, but he got the room to stand up and cheer despite on things like marriage equality and don't ask don't tell he was on the other side of barack obama. but that said, you can't beat having a former president do the bill of particulars for you. because if anyone was a swing voter will listen, they may not listen to the partisans they get on stage, but a former president has a weight. and for the republicans not to disappear their president and not to be able to bring a president to bear, they lost a huge opportunity to get nonpartisan-type voters who bill
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clinton actually appeals to. >> you guys have to listen, you have two living presidents. where were the bushes? >> let's go back to 2000 when al gore was nowhere near bill clinton. >> and he became a nobel peace prize winning guy and not the president. >> i understand. but decisions are made and it's very easy to have a 69% approval rating when you are not in elected office. >> he had that while he was there. >> he did. through impeachment. >> he was impeached. >> it was not passed by his wife. let's put it in perspective in the context of what it was. but we talk about welfare reform, telecommunications reform, those were very difficult processes. government shut down, but they did lead to cooperation between republicans and democrats. >> can i say -- >> it was reformed twice before it passed. >> i think you're right sometimes politics push people
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apart, but the problem for the republicans is deeper than that. george w. bush is not only personally unpopular, his policies of deregulation, those are unpopular policies and mitt romney doubled down on them. mitt romney's tax plan is more tilted to millionaires than george w. bush. >> the reason you couldn't be there is it was a reminder that it is his tethered. in fact, we'll talk about this next on who showed up at the democratic convention who you may not have expected, rush limbaugh. he was an important part of why one of the speakers was in the primetime lineup. whoa. right? get. out. exactly! really?! [ mom ] what? shut the front door. right? woop-woop! franklin delano! [ male announcer ] there's oreo creme under that fudge! oreo fudge cremes. now in two new flavors.
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interesting thing happened in charlotte, women's reproductive rights went right into the spotlight at the democratic national convention along with gay marriage and immigration. it was a big week for politics with a little p. so the big ten got awfully big.
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my favorite buttons of the week were just a straight up pink button that says uterus. and sandra fluke was a primetime speaker because rush limbaugh called her a slut and there was the must-have button. all those are identity politics, gender, race, the dreamers at the front. is this a party actively this time going to say, we are a party for everybody who is not sort of mitt romney? >> that was another contrast between the two conventions. i felt like the whole democratic convention was a little bit of everything. even the musical selections were james taylor, the foo fighters to mary j. it was a whole america convention. it was interesting that the democrats, there was a time when they were afraid to talk about contraception and abortion. they were using the word
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abortion and were front and center saying we embrace these policies that we have always sort of done in the background but we are going to bring them to the forefront and move sandra fluke's speech, which caused a lot of consternation on twitter, there were some offensive tweets. we wanted to make her more prominent. democrats seem unafraid now, bolder. >> i think moving away from the republicans again in all the kind of rhetoric about women and abortion and the illegitimate rape, they kind of had to do that. we have to demarcate who we are and we are going to put these vilified women and minorities out there front and center so that you know who we are. so i think they had to do that really. >> this is governor duvall's notion of a backbone. for more than a decade you have been talking about the split in latino voting, the possibility of latinos as wing voters, that could go either way, but it felt like the front and center of the
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dreamers and the president's deferred action at the core, is this the end of a swing possibility or latinos simply going to say, our interests are much better served in the democratic party? >> i think they are going to do better in an environment that is better for the latinos. for the democratic latinos, they are moved and concerned about the fact there was not immigration reform. the president pushed health care reform and a variety of other issues before immigration when he promised to address it in his first year. he has to mobilize that base of voters and get them to turn out. >> but deferred action, i mean, that is a -- him saying, okay, i couldn't get republicans to go along with the dream act -- >> that's a false hope. it's a false hope. >> it makes a difference for actual young people living right in this moment. like he said, look, i'm the president, this is the wrong policy, this is the right one and i'm going to take all the action i can within the constitutional bounds of my
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presidency to address it. >> there's not enough time in that, but the problem is it is a short-term solution, not a long-term solution. if you're going to disclose you are here as an undocumented student, you jeopardize and are outing your mother, father, everybody else in your family and you have to rely on the fact that the federal government, the republicans and democrats are going to get together to solve this issue. you have to take a big leap of faith. that's a challenge. >> we can hear why the dream act is not a long-term solution. one thing we saw this week at the dnc in star sloth was san antonio mayor julian castro putting texas front and center. if you think texas can't be a battleground, you have to hear what's next. ♪ [ multiple sounds making melodic tune ] ♪
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would have thought it extraordinary that just two generations after she arrived in san santonio one grandson would be the mayor and the other would be on his way, the good people of san antonio willing, to the united states congress! >> so that was rising democratic star san antonio mayor julian castro speaking at the democratic national convention on tuesday. cecil richards reminds us that texas has a long history with the democratic party. take a look. >> 24 years ago my mother, former texas governor ann richards, spoke to this convention. yeah, i mean, just say ann richards name gets a cheer because ann richard uses with the last democratic governor of texas. the last democrat to win a statewide seat as attorney general in 1994 and since then there's been a bit of a dry spell, but with stars like
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julian castro the guy may be the limit because texas democrats showed up pretty big in charlotte. meanwhile in tampa, the republicans didn't even have the last nationally elected texan. you know, former president george w. bush speak at their convention. it may have been since 1976 the last time we had a democratic presidential candidate win the state of texas in the form of jimmy carter, but one has to ask, is it possible for the rising stars and the expanding aeticily diverse population that the lone star state can once ago go from red to blue. the first person i have to ask that question of, leslie, is you. you're a texan and i think you make a clear point that latino voters, demographics are not destiny. latino voters believe and have different kinds of interests, but is this a real possibility? >> texas is for a more conservative latino. you're seeing it in the last
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several elections with the rise of ted cruz for senate who was the underdog candidate who came to beat the incumbent lieutenant governor through a grassroots movement. texas is interesting and i say that julian and joaquin are rising stars regardless of their party. they are excellent examples of the true politicians in kind of public leaders you get out of texas. the reason we are different is we are one of the last batches of conservative democrats. you have pro-trade, not open word but strong border relations with mexico when you come from texas. and you have 30% of the community there that wants to vote for a republican candidate. >> that's an interesting point. we have been talking about this sort of tension between dlc version of a democrat and potentially the more leftward leaning one. you have to be big towards the right. >> at the tampa convention the way the texas delegation showed out is they were the ones who were booing and walking out to support the main delegation.
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they were ron paul deep. >> right. >> the two black texas delegates that i met in tampa, one of them was a ron paul guy. they literally when you heard all the noise and the booing, that was texas. so they tend to go very libertarian. this is a very libertarian ron paul type of republican, but what's interesting for the future and i was sort of talking to the julian castro staff about this, if you look at the latino population, 38% of texas, the young population, the part under 18 is something like three times the size of the population over 65. there's a huge sort of boom-lit of latinos coming up in that generation that's going to turn 18 in the next several years and democrats are working hard for that vote. >> there's a link between what leslie and joy are talking about, which is a less partisan and more open grassroot there is. if i can praise george w. bush on this show for a moment -- >> wow, tread carefully, ari. let's hear it. >> george w. bush for was comprehensive immigration reform
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and worked hard across party lines on that. they didn't get there but i think that was real to his heart. though i don't agree with other minority-related policies at the level of his cabinet, it was the most ethically diverse of any republican candidate in u.s. history. so that is a real part of what texas republicanism meant to him and there's no reason why the castros or other groups coming out of there can't build across party lines and sort of -- >> i got more texas questions as soon as we come back because lbj, barbara jordan, texas is a big prize. a lot of electoral votes. we'll speak more on it as soon as we come back. we're sitting on a bunch of shale gas. there's natural gas under my town. it's a game changer. ♪ it means cleaner, cheaper american-made energy. but we've got to be careful how we get it. design the wells to be safe. thousands of jobs. use the most advanced technology to protect our water. billions in the economy. at chevron, if we can't do it right, we won't do it at all. we've got to think long term. we've got to think long term.
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welcome back. we are still talking about the big prize, which is texas. a speech like castro's puts him on the map but the other thing that occurs is to remind people who give money to local candidates, remind the national party, yeah, there are democrats
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down in that state. is there kind of a structural building that becomes possible once you have the twin brothers saying, hey, there are democrats here who could do it on the national stage? >> well, i think the, you know, when things start to shift you can't take one group for granted and it's becoming obviously they are not monolithic. there's a hybrid republican/democrat thing going on. i think structurally something has to start the rising level. how do we actually accommodate what otherwise we try to position these views but some ways come together. how do we accommodate and allow for this group, which is a huge group, to actually have their say. >> it felt like such a reminder after, the voice we have been hearing from texas is rick perry and literally secessionist language, right? that's what we have been hearing and all of a sudden we get a different view of texas and it's like, oh, yeah, there's austin down there and there's san antonio and houston right there. but is that what it is, that the
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municipalities are different than the state? >> if you go back to the history, there's a strong history of strong democratic leaders, particularly in san antonio and dallas. but republicans focused on the state legislatures and trying to take control because that's where a lot of the redistributing takes place. you'll see the seats of which castro's brother is running for and also the statewide seats were always important to republican candidates. and part of the map is to earn 30% of the hispanic vote in the state of texas, which will ensure or pretty much lead to a republican win. >> the only way they are doing is redistribucting. there's a democratic wave coming. you have seen it in states like texas. if there was no way texas would become a purple state, you wouldn't have seen the aggressive redistricting that you saw. >> we talked about young people and this sort of change, what it is going to look like in texas, i said, oh, that of course is
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why you saw these aggressive suppression voters. and texas is still under the preclearance laws of the voting rights act. the big win has come out of texas. >> exactly. this is something you spotlighted on the show before. texas has been slapped down twice. once on the pre-clearance issue on how they are creating the districts because of discriminatory history and two the whole new second era wave of discrimination through voter i.d. laws and the new ruling that slapped down their voter i.d. law in texas is a big deal because the supreme court has said you can have these kind of i.d.s. when a lower court slaps down your i.d., it is not the idea of the i.d. but how badly and onerously you create the hurdles. democrats in texas have the challenge because they don't want to whine about the referees and that's a political problem, but the substantive issue is people have to have the right to vote. when the federal courts come in
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to clean up what the republicans are doing on the local level, that shows you how bad they are acting. >> and the fascinating shift was in the democratic party, the all-white party and convention. now we see the republican party picking up the same -- >> can i tell you a quick statistic? the 2008 primaries, hillary clinton by herself got more actual votes than all of the republican candidates combined. the turnout for the democratic primary was something like double the turnout for the republicans. so democrats have a future in that state. >> that can shift the whole electoral map. >> a fun step to add was it was a lot of mexican hispanic women that helped her campaign. in nevada as well. >> in '08 spanish range wanlg media households were more supportive of clinton than obama in the '08 primaries but then they very much came along in the large obama coalition for the win. and at this point seemed to be very solidly in president
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obama's re-election coalition. it is really a question of turnout. >> i think it's -- he leads by 64 to romney's 34 or something like that. he has a massive advantage with latino voters. and it is a matter of turnout, so thankfully with the voter suppression, the federal court actually said that texas was actually trying to discriminate these voters. it is shocking that people are still doing that in 2012, but yeah, the turnout is going to be the main thing. >> and the federal court has the ability to do that that the other courts don't because of the voter rights act. you don't have to say, oh, you're a bad and racist legislature, you can just say there's a disparate impact that can't hold under the voting rights act. there's one state right now similar to texas that has got an important latino population. it's also a swing state that's in play and it is florida. florida is right now where the president is. so when we come back, we are going to spend a little time talking about what wasn't said in tampa, what wasn't said in charlotte but what is going to
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be said in florida this morning by the president. oh, hey alex. just picking up some, brochures, posters copies of my acceptance speech. great! it's always good to have a backup plan, in case i get hit by a meteor. wow, your hair looks great. didn't realize they did photoshop here. hey, good call on those mugs. can't let 'em see what you're drinking. you know, i'm glad we're both running a nice, clean race. no need to get nasty. here's your "honk if you had an affair with taylor" yard sign. looks good. [ male announcer ] fedex office. now save 50% on banners.
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and they danced. see what a raymond james advisor can do for you. welcome back. i'm melissa harris-perry. you are looking at a live event underway at st. petersburg college in florida where president obama is campaigning as part of his two-day tour of the battleground state. we'll take you there live when the president gets on stage. you won't miss a thing, i promise. we'll take you to things that weren't said in tampa over three days and dozens of speakers to cover a range, but we couldn't help there were more than a few issues that barely garnered a mention. for example, even as former woman gabby giffords, perhaps the most famous gunshot wound leader led the pledge of allegiance thursday, there was no talk of gun control at the dnc.
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and despite the recent mass shootings in colorado and wisconsin, the gun issue was also off the table the previous week in tampa. and perhaps at a national convention maybe that's understandable because gun violence is often a local issue with local complexities. so where else did both democrats and republicans prove gun shy? certainly not in the middle class but a long shot. signs reading middle class first were on display throughout the halls as president clinton hammered home his party's political priority. >> if you want a future of shared prosperity where the middle class is growing and poverty is declining, where the middle class dream is alive and growing and where the united states maintains its leadership as a force for peace and justice and prosperity in this highly competitive world, you have to vote for barack obama. >> so of course republicans the week before said that the middle class has to vote for mitt romney for the same reasons.
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but what about those still seeking their admission ticket into the middle class, who was talking about them this week? the department of agriculture reported that nearly 17 million people, that's 5.7% of americans, suffered from what is termed very low food security in 2011. that was an increase of 800,000 people since 2010. and that is people skipping a meal or meals going hungry for a day or more because they couldn't afford to buy food here in america. not a ticket to a concert, not the latest blu-ray dvd, food. back at the table, joy, ari, lola and leslie. lola, why is nobody talking about poverty in. >> because it's not sexy. it's not the thing people are talking about at the moment. at the moment the republicans are talking about this wealth thing and middle class and then the one in six people that have nothing and are not there. and that is a major, major issue because president obama did talk
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about incomes not meeting rising costs and, yeah, that's much more than -- that means people from the middle class can become poor. so that -- it's not just about shoring up what's already there and getting more jobs but it is about addressing the fact that there are serious factors on the table. if they are not really dealt with and you can have more and more people falling into the poverty trap. >> i had a big of explosion in my angst on how poverty is not talked about and got a ton of hate mail in response, but one of the pieces was irritating to me because it said marx lisa, you're an idiot. actually people live in the third world in america they have social services. i thought, no, no, actual poor people live right here. in that vacuum of simply talking about poverty, even beyond the question of policies, just talking about it feels to me like something both of the parties needed to address. >> melissa, i don't think the idiot attack is going to stick to you if you need to run for
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office or anything. the negative things people say about you probably wouldn't be stupid. i don't think that will be a problem, but it is a problematic argument. it's the same argument you hear really about women and minorities which is, well, you're lucky it is not 50 years ago. thanks, but we are not doing like a hot tub time machine politics here. we are talking about how things are today and while you may be better off than if you were born in a ref ugee camp or a third world, the only conflict is the medicaid discussion about a group that are poor, many are falling out of the middle class, and the voting rates there are much lower. that's why it was so weird when d.c. media said it was courageous for paul ryan or anyone to cover the budget because of medicaid. go ahead. >> i was just going to stay in addition the voter who is are
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still available, it's a very partisan election. there's 47, 46, only 5% left undecided. conservatives have done a good job over the last three decades of demonizing the poor as unworthy and lazy. so the voters who are still available, which is really working class white voters, built up a resentment over the last generation where they feel their stuff, their money is being taken from them through taxation to give to the poor. so talking about the poor just stokes more resentment. >> but let me ask you this, the fact is one could look at president obama's accomplishments and say, these actually are accomplishments that help to mitigate poverty despite the numbers. lily ledbetter is in certain ways more than a policy program than a gender program. why? because single moms make the lowest dollar per male income. food subsidies, he's been attacked at the food stamp president but he can spin it that i'm keeping kids from starving, and this is also a president whose health care reform will have an indisputable and important impact for poor
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families. he doesn't say these were poverty alleviations and republicans don't say you made a bunch more people poor. nobody said -- there's an argument on both sides. >> there was a small tone of that argument. i think what's interesting about it is if you look at 2008, president obama was saying, look, give me the benefit of the doubt to move this anemic economy and where we were. and that's really the decision that 5% or 6% are making, the independent group, and i would say it is bigger than that. if you look at the fact that spanish children are the highest group in poverty now, higher unemployment, all the way around, those are significant things that happened under this administration. so that's why i do think the poverty conversation is coming up but it's not coming up in the way we want it to. >> but i have to say it hasn't come up in that way. so we hear the middle class argument and hear the foreclosure argument, but i don't think, for example, you hear about poor and hungry kids
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because then if newt gingrich is attacking the president saying you're a food stamp president, he has to say, what would my option have been, right? >> you know who the last presidential candidate was who talked a lot about poverty. he is from charlotte, north carolina. his name is john edwards. that name which we dare not speak. but whatever john edwards -- >> bush, john edwards, you are just on a role. >> sorry. i have a suicide mission on social media. but john edwards may have been wrong about many things. he was not wrong about taking his position as a politically famous person and trying to put poverty on the agenda. >> is it the discrediting of john ed wards part of what happened? if you now start to talk about the two americas, do you evoke, oh, my goodness, you are the john edwards guy? >> in the democratic primary, he was losing the primary with the argument. unfortunately in this country right now poverty is, as you said, not a sexy topic or political winner. we take so many pains to court
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the middle class. all politicians zero in on them and rich politicians pin them on tax cuts. it is always framed for the middle class. >> and there's also a conservative mind rhetoric block that goes on where if you talk about poverty too much people say, what do you know about poverty if you're not poor? john edwards, if you are so rich, you can't talk about poverty. >> we are going to continue to await president obama at the campaign rally in the battleground state of florida. we are going to take you there as soon as we come back. my volt is the best vehicle i've ever driven. i bought the car because of its efficiency. i bought the car because i could eliminate gas from my budget. i don't spend money on gasoline. it's been 4,000 miles since my last trip to the gas station. it's pretty great. i get a bunch of kids waving at me... giving me the thumbs up. it's always a gratifying experience.
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president obama is campaigning at stet petersburg
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college in florida as part of a two-day tour through the battleground state. let's take a listen to the president. [ cheers and applause ] >> all right. now, first thing i want to do is make sure everybody is staying hydrated. and if you have been standing here a while, bend your knees. i don't want anybody falling out. i want to thank charlie christ for his support and showing that the values that we are fighting
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for are not democratic values or republican values, they are american values. that's what we are fighting for. we've got one of the finest senators in the country, your senator, bill nelson here. one of the best members of congress that we've got, kathy caster is here. and all of you are here. i'm really excited about that. now, i love you back. that's why i came. now, we just had our convention in charlotte, north carolina. folks there could not have been more welcoming.
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michelle, what can i say? you know, as the other men in the audience know, our main goal when we marry is to improve our gene pool. that's why my daughters turned out good, because you marry up. you marry somebody superior to yourself. and you just beg them until they marry you. you just -- you just -- persistence is the key. and then you got president clinton who made the case as only he can. after he spoke somebody sent out a tweet that said, you should appoint him secretary of explaining stuff. i like that. secretary of explaining stuff. although i have to admit, it didn't really say stuff. i cleaned that up a little bit.
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and then two days ago i did my best to lay out the stakes in this election. because they are big stakes. on both sides, they have made their arguments now. and i know you handled a lot of national republicans in the neighborhood making their argument. we have made ours. and so now you've got a big choice to make. and by the way, don't boo, vote! vote. i honestly believe this is the clearest choice of any time in our generation. because it's a choice not just between two candidates or two political parties, this is a choice between two fundamentally different paths for america. two fundamentally different visions for our future.
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now ours is a fight. on behalf of that basic bargain that built the largest middle class in the strongest economy the world has ever known, the bargain that says if you work hard, it will pay off. the bargain that says responsibility will be rewarded. and everybody's got a fair shot. and everybody does their fair share. and everybody plays by the same set of rules from main street to wall street to washington, d.c. that's what we are fighting for. that basic bargain is why i ran for president in the first place. because too many jobs were disappearing overseas. too many families were struggling to make the mortgage. or put food on the table. people were having to borrow just for day-to-day expenses to fill up the gas tank and over time more and more of that debt built up. and then this whole house of
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cards came tumbling down in the worst economic crisis, the biggest financial crisis since the great depression. and millions of innocent americans lost their jobs and their homes and their life savings. a tragedy that we are still fighting to recover from. now our friends at their convention, they were more than happy to talk about everything they think is wrong with america. but they didn't say much about how they would make it right. they want your vote but they don't want you to know their plan. and that's because -- that's because all they've got to offer are the same prescriptions that they have had for 30 years. tax cuts, tax cuts, got a few regulations, some more tax cuts. tax cuts when times are good, tax cuts when times are bad.
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tax cuts to help you lose a few extra pounds. tax cuts to help your love life. say, somebody says it doesn't help. you tried those tax cuts, now listen, actually, it does help when you give it to folks who need it. that's why i've cut taxes for middle class families. and for small business owners 18 times. but i don't believe and you don't believe that another round of tax breaks for millionaires is going to bring good jobs back to our shores or pay down our deficit. i don't believe that firing teachers or kicking students off of financial aid, students who go right here to this institution that somehow that's going to help our economy or help us compete with scientists and engineers coming out of china. after all that we have been
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through, do we really think that it would make sense to roll back regulations on wall street? >> no! >> that somehow that's going to help small businesswomen expand our laid off construction workers keep their homes? >> no! >> let me tell you that, we have been there. we have tried what they are pedaling. it didn't work. we are not going back. >> no! >> we are going forward. we are going forward. we are going forward. i won't pretend the path i'm offering is quick or that it's going to be easy. i never have. sometimes i ask people to go back to 2008 and look at what i said. i said, this was going to take some time because these problems have been building up for a long time. bill clinton reminded us on wednesday night it's going to take more than a few years to solve challenges that have been built up for decades. but let me tell you something,
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when our opponents say this nation is in decline, they are dead wrong. this is america. we still have the best workers in the world and the best entrepreneurs in the world. we got the best scientists and the best researchers. we've got the best colleges and the best universities. we are a young nation with a great diversity of talent and ingenuity from every corner of the globe. so no matter what the nay sayers say for political reasons, no matter how dark they try to make everything look, there's not a country on earth that wouldn't gladly trade places with the united states of america. [ cheers and applause ] >> that is president obama campaigning in st. petersburg, florida. he's on the traditional post-convention battleground campaign swing right there in florida. later this morning vice president biden will be speaking in ohio, another battleground. let's go back to the panel. we really heard the president sort of put out his general
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means there, right, the tax cut joke. the idea they don't have a real policy, just tax cuts. he's got this whole piece here around i know you just heard 8.1%, he's not going to say that, but i know you just heard 8% 1%, but anybody who tells you it is all doom and gloom is a naysayer, we are moving forward and here are the plans and policies for moving forward. that's going to be the theme for the next 50 days. >> it's the reagan re-elect. we are the guys sort of hopeful positive party and the other side is the doom and gloom party. that's true. this guy has failed you, put us in. what the obama message is, look, we are moving forward, literally his campaign message and give us more time to do it. but we are the rah-rah america party. that's part of the role reversal of the parties. the democrats are the don't bet against america kind of party. >> it's interesting to watch that happen. >> the thing about politics is
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when you get an attack sometimes you fight it and sometimes you flee. it comes down to the basic instinct, and this attack are you better now than four years ago, obviously this is a winner. obviously the democrats think they can own it and are using it as a pivot to foreign policy and ask bin laden and general motors as a pivot to say, yes, that was so interesting about the bill clinton speech, which he just mentioned in quoting the famous tweet about he should be secretary of explaining stuff. bill clinton explained that you bet, compared to a net 750,000 a month job loss are we doing better today as an economic fact? absolutely. >> even for him to say go back and read my 2008 speech, which i have printed out so i started going back in and reading it, but in other words he's not running from the four years ago. he's saying let's go back to four years ago and talk about where we are right now. >> i was there four years ago and there were balloons and con feet tee. it was hope and change, it was we were going to do this.
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we are the ones we have been waiting for. it was this whole idea that everybody, especially the independent voters bought into and gave the benefit of the doubt. and this is the case you see the voters looking to give the benefit of the doubt to a different party and are they really willing to make that change. you can argue whatever you want about this and that. i think he's running away from it and the speech he gave was not as exciting, not as enthusiastic. >> it certainly wasn't as exciting but it was on purpose. you don't in a recession. he's the president. he's going to perform it differently. but to say he's running away from it, i've got to say, he did go right for his record. he's like, here's what we did. all candidates tell their record selectively, but he certainly laid out the ways in which the policy priorities that he set out he managed to accomplish over some time. >> yeah, i mean there has been some change, you know, there has been change. >> meaningful change. >> meaningful change. health care reform, it hadn't -- it wasn't the big thing everyone
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wanted it to be that way, but i don't know what people expect. it's four years. and i did student politics and in that time i realized what i said i was going to do was like, oh m i god, and you get in there fighting with all the other congress and people against you, it's very difficult. so i think that -- >> there is so much more. the president is -- whatever else he is, he's compelling enough to keep all of us fighting about what he says, so thank you to joy and leslie and lola. ari is going to stick around for a bit longer, but up next we'll talk about something educational nobody is talking about, and that's a priority on my list. prisons. i'm taking you back home to louisiana. let's say you need te care of legal matters. wouldn't it be nice if there was an easier, less-expensive option than using a traditional lawyer? well, legalzoom came up with a better way. we took the best of the old and combined it with modern technology. together you get quality services on your terms, with total customer support. legalzoom documents have been accepted in all 50 states,
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forward may have been the branding at the democratic national convention but collective work and responsibility was the message. in direct contrast to the
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emphasis placed on i was paid to we. one of the projects we have built together as a nation, something that we as americans can uniquely say we have poured our resources into over the years, prisons. we have been incourse rating more of our citizens than any other country in the world. at last check 2.3 million. my home state of louisiana has become the prison capital of the world. louisiana's incarceration rate is 15 times iran's and 20 times germany's. i took a look at what we have taken the time, energy aresources to build in my state and met with a local activist looking to turn that around in new orleans. lawrence henderson spent nearly half his life in prison for a crime he did not commit. now that he's free his work still focuses on those still in the system. hi, lawrence, how are you?
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i'm melissa, thank you for joining me today. >> the first thing i was to see post-katrina, it was the jail. they turned the greyhound bus station into a prison. they were up and running and i was told the jail was up and running. i was told before we had the first school, well, we still don't have a hospital. right now the jail hospital is still closed, but the jail became a priority because this city has enjoyed the benefits of putting their citizens, their residents in jail. but we lead the nation nor capital incourse ration for the place that has the highest crime rate in the country. what is allowed to happen here, prison is a growth industry expressed from louisiana. people ask, how do you know how much about that? well, i spent practically half my life in a prison.
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i spent 27 years in prison for a crime i didn't commit and i watched this system go from having one penitentiary and one institution for young adults that have grown to 13 institutions and a jail in every parish that are housing state inmates. here in new orleans this perverse incentive, the cost of the person being in jail -- >> i don't want to miss this because i remember when i first learned this story, right, that the state is paying local policing, local sheriffs, in these parishes -- the counties, we call them parishes, a per diem, per body to house the inmates. there's incentive not to clear out but to keep people in. one of the sheriffs is marlo gus
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downman. i asked him about the system. >> the system of paying someone on a daily basis to house an inmate did lead to the construction of new facilities as a way to finance them. not something that we have done here. and perhaps sometimes you pay for the deeds of others that come before you. we really have gotten away from that. and it's -- what i would like to focus more on is proper funding. >> i walked with you a little bit before we got started on this mission and looked at the plans for the new facility up on the wall. there's a part of it that makes my heart sink because there's no principal in this town to walk me through or very few principals to walk me through new facilities being walked or built for their schools.
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and that image of building jail cells over classrooms is the question people have. why are we investing tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars into facilities to incarcerate people but not to educate people? >> well, first of all, there are certainty some very nice schools here that have been rebuilt after katrina. whether you go to the martin luther king school for science and technology or the l.b. landry school across the river that have really been done nice. as far as incarceration, it is an unfortunate fact in our way of life. >> this system has been p perpetuating itself for better of 40 years. uneducated people make unwise decisions. so when kids get into trouble here, if you track their academic process, you understand why they are having this problem.
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>> the united states with about 5% of the world's population has nearly 25% of the world's prisoners. why? and what we can do about it when we come back. h heavy measur with olay. regenerist micro-sculpting serum for firmer skin in 5 days. pretty heavy lifting for such a lightweight. [ female announcer ] olay regenerist.
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in a deep, hemi-rumble sort of way. guts. glory. ram. since 1970 the number of people incarcerated in this country has grown by 700%. after president richard nixon declared the war on drugs 40 years ago we saw an explosion in the nation's prison population. and following the same trajectory of the federal and state governments have poured billions into the so-called correctional institutions with the prison industrial complex no part of the discussion at either party's convention, when and how will this quiet epidemic receive the attention it deserves in here to discuss our attorney sofia elijah, the executive director of the correctional association of new york. glenn martin, vice president of public affairs at the fortune society and a former inmate himself. and the nation's ari melbur, glenn, tough on crime, this was the winning strategy for 30
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years. what can we do to turn this around? >> we have a growth of 500% in our prison population over the last 30 years here in america. and essentially america has been sold a poor bill of goods and being told we would reduce crime if we focused on being tough on crime. now we are paying the price. we have 700,000 people exiting our prison each year. 2.3 million people in our prison on any given day. and we have turned our prisons into economic engines. essentially there are communities that wouldn't exist were it not for the existence of the prisons in those communities. >> i want to pause on that because i'm not sure people understand the economic incentive structure that exists around incarceration. people do bad things, put them in jail or else they keep doing bad things, there's actual profit-driven here. >> at the fortune society we keep people out of prison on the front end. there are hundreds of thousands
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of people in prison currently that would have benefited from treatment on the front end rather than being put in the justice system without treatment at all. if you look at new york, california and texas, three states that were closely compared to each other in terms of the prison rate just 15, 20 years ago. new york state invested heavily in alternatives to incarceration and now we are reaping the benefit. the prison population is down 20% and the crime is down in new york. whereas you look at california and the judges are essentially telling them you have to get 30,000, 40,000 people of out california's prison system. they response is to put them in jails. >> that supreme court ruling around california's prison system has to do with how incentiveized the prisons were to keep people locked up, is that right? >> that's correct. part of the problem and california's response as glenn said, yes, they moved a lot of people out of their prisons into
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the local jails where they don't get the programs they need to eventually lead to successful reentry and more frightening is the move thousands of people moving to other state facilities across the country, meaning their families can't have access to them. all the research shows that strong family ties maintained while someone is reincarcerated leads to successful reentry. that's only going to make the problem worse down the line. >> i'm thinking, ari, why isn't anyone talking about the poor? well, the poor don't vote, but ex-felons being unable to vote is often a policy statement. is that why no one is asking about prison conditions, prison reform, changing this incentive structure? >> it's a huge problem and notion that someone who has paid their debt to society, which is from a tough perspective, the baseline of serving doesn't have the chance to reengage in civil sotsz. i think that's why the denial of voting rights is such an
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important issue although it's been determined constitutional. doesn't mean it is good policy. the other piece that i love to get your thoughts on is people forget in the presidential campaign that it does not reflect the fact that we have gone from a system where we have trial by juries of our peers to a system of plea bargaining between powerful prosecutors and powerless defendants. how does that play into the way people get to prison? >> 30 to 40 years ago when we moved to mandatory minimums, the idea you get arrested for a crime and no discretion for the judge, we moved the discretion to the prosecutors. now you have a system where 95% of the people go through the system and the plea bargain before they get near a jury trial. in fact, it was michelle alexander that pointed out if everyone in the system said i want to go to trial, this system would come to a grinding halt. so what it means is that we have filled our prisons, 2.3 million people in prison, folks who don't have a chance to even get access to treatment, although i would make an argument that
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unfortunately the criminal justice system shouldn't be the only way people have access to treatment. >> let's be clear when talking about this explosion in the prison population it is vastly predominantly non-violent crimes, mostly drug crimes. >> that's true. our so-called war on drugs has really resulted in a war on poor people because people, what the research shows is that the vast majority of the people who use drugs are more affluent and predominantly white. but what we find is incarcerated is people of color and poorer people. and treatment for drug addiction is what is the way we aught to go because addiction is a disease and shouldn't be criminalized. >> as soon as we come back we'll pick up on something i said earlier about families and sort of the impact of this incarceration on folks beyond the wide circle and beyond the individuals incarcerated. and also on states, if you're a taxpayer, you should care about this. now in california there are so many prisoners that when the court ordered the state had to deal with overcrowding they
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[ garth ] why settle for less? great businesses deserve the most rewards! awesome!!! [ male announcer ] the spark business card from capital one. choose unlimited rewards with 2% cash back or double miles on every purchase, every day! what's in your wallet? we are back and talking about the explosion of the prison population. i just want to show you this number. this number is what it costs taxpayers to keep state prisoners. $31,286 per state prisoner annually. $31,000. think about all the things your state could spend $31,000 a year on. what are all our alternatives here, sofia? >> we should be looking to diverting people out of the criminal justice system providing them with the necessary education, counseling, substance treatment, mental
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health treatment because of the disproportionate number of people incarcerated with mental health issues. if we use those alternatives, some of the approaches we have been using in new york, for instance, we could find we can decrease this population substantially. we could also release a number of our elderly incarcerated people. we have approximately 246,000 people over the age of 55 who are incarcerated. and the population is growing. the prison population of this age group has increased by over 63% in the past four years. >> right. this is part of that tough on crime to put people in prison for life so now what you have is this population of people over 50, over 60 with very low rates. i'm talking about the cost of the taxpayer but the other piece is the costs we don't talk about, costs to the whole community. what does it mean to live in a community where people are
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disproportionally incarcerated? >> it is not just the $31,000 cost, but the question is what sort of bang are we getting for our buck? 60% of the people who go to prison go back within three years. any other industry with that failure rate would be out of existence. instead we keep feeding resources into the criminal justice system in the united states and doing things the same repeatedly. and with the 700,000 people coming home from prison, they are going to very specific communities. communities that are disproportionately impacted. communities of color, poor communities, so it is not just the fact that these people have done long periods of time in prison and are not prepared upon return, but it is also the invisible punishment that we attach. the fact that you can't vote, go to public school. >> if you can't live in public housing you're going back to a poor community, or your wife or sister lives in public housing, you can't be together because you are no longer allowed to live in public housing. >> the communities that need the political power the most to get
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the resources responsible to the large number of people coming home are the same people with voter dillusion to those coming home. >> there are two sides when i think about the costs born, you made the point about the elderly, about the people who have served so many years who are unlikely to return than others. there's this tax code called what will happen to me about the children, there are 3 million children who have parents in prison. it is this beautiful book with these beautiful faces of young people talking about their sadness, this young woman talking about how she felt so sad she was crying, it made my head hurt, brain hurt and stomach hurt. this young woman has not committed a crime but her mother is imprisoned for a drug crime scene is managing all the cultural aspects of that. it just feels like it is time to talk about a new solution. >> i couldn't agree with you
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more. the devastating impact on the children of parents who are incarcerat incarcerated, we see this manifesting itself in the schools. if a child has just come back from a visit with a parent, that child is unlikely to be focused on what's going on in school because of the emotional issues that you just identified. and then that child's performance starts to decline. and then it becomes a self-perpetuating impact. >> is it hard to build schools and not prisons? >> i think what we are hearing is the cycle of de-legitimatization. either you're laughing out of the room, like a hippy, there are not many of them around, or you're some sort of politically
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naive person to keep criminals. last week president obama went for the first time to get grassroots questions from around the country, and there were a bunch on drug policy. they said, there's the marijuana question again, those stoners. the issues around marijuana or crack cocaine are not just about drug users, they are about the question whether we the right trade-off to delegitimize and dehumanize people and take them away and disappear them as individuals and disappear those issues from our political discourse. >> i've got more on this question of prisons in just a moment. but first it's time for a preview of "weekends with alex witt". hello. on the campaign trail jobs seems to be the number one issue out there. how both are reacting. new poll numbers suggest president obama may have gotten a convention bounce. new storm warnings out at this hour, not just from tropical storm leslie. a busy weather day.
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plus, we're nearing the 9/11 anniversary. one analyst says there are terrorists in the u.s. who would like to avenge the death of osama bin laden with an attack. and a new study just out that tells us which states are the most expensive when it comes to raising children. the top few surprise some surprises for you. we'll share that with our viewers. back to you. up next, the surprising solution found in prison food. [ male announcer ] most people tend to think more about how they brush than what they brush with.
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for 25 years liz drove six hours each way between new york city and virginia bringing her two children to see their incarcerated father. liz learned firsthand how a prison sentence involves more than just the prisoner. when she joined the osborne foundation, the organization had two employees. they served 50 prison inmates a year. 28 years later, osborne has 200 employees and works with 7,000 prisoners and family members a
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year. fresh start draws participants in with culinary training but also offers computer literacy classes, job readiness and life skills. inmates take part in their communities, cooking and serving holiday meals. once an inmate has completed the program and left rikers island, fresh start offers job and school placement assistance. wondering if it works? since its inception, 1,500 men have completed fresh start. the "new york times" reports that of the inmates who take part in the program, 90% do not return to jail within the year. cost to the city? $5,000 per participant. many people come together to make fresh start possible, but liz gains is the program life blood and driving force. as she told us, to be effective in this work you have to spend time in jail to listen to what people need. it's not a job you can do behind a desk. for getting out from behind that desk and for making a difference to those who so many would just as soon forget, liz gains is our
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foot soldier of the week. that is our show today. thank you to my guests, thanks to you at home for watching. see you tomorrow morning 10:00 a.m. eastern. coming up right now, "weekends with alex witt." back from rough economic times. employees are being forced to do more with less. and the need for capable leaders is greater than ever. when you see these problems do you take a step back, or do you want to dive right in? with a degree in business from capella university, you'll have the knowledge to go further in your career than you ever thought possible. let's get started at capella.edu
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hey. hey eddie. i brought your stuff. you don't have to do this. yes i do. i want you to keep this. it'd be weird. take care. you too.

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